Here comes ‘Horseplayer Christmas’


Advertise with us

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/11/2021 (578 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

This Friday and Saturday many of the best horses in the world will compete at Del Mar racetrack in California in the Breeders’ Cup world championships.

There will be 14 races in all, with $31 million in purse money  up for grabs. That’s why racing fans love it so much — and the reason you may find it even more thrilling than the Kentucky Derby.
Friday is babies day. That’s when top two-year-olds run in five races, two on the dirt track, three on the turf track.

That day will be particularly exciting because the race for fillies has produced giant prices in four of the past six Breeders’ Cup events in California. A $2 ticket has been worth $66.60, $125.40, $69.20 and $36.60 in those years. Will it happen again?

Supplied photo Trainer Rob Atras, from Oakbank, Man, and his wife/assistant trainer Brittney are pictured with Maracuja at a New York track. The filly had earned free entry into a $2 million Breeders’ Cup race this weekend but is being rested instead.

Nine Breeders’ Cup races will be held on Saturday. The race for top fillies and mares, called the Distaff, was supposed to feature a horse trained by Manitoba’s Rob Atras. His three-year-old filly, Maracuja, earned free entry into the $2 million race plus shipping costs after she knocked off the previously unbeaten mare, Malathaat, in a Grade 1 $600,000 shocker at Saratoga race track in upper state New York this past summer.

Problem is, that huge effort, in which Maracuja was a 14-1 underdog, seemed to set the mare back. She couldn’t repeat it in two subsequent races which has prompted Atras to forego the Breeders’ Cup opportunity and ship her to a farm to freshen up for her four-year-old campaign starting Jan. 1.

This is obviously a disappointment for local fans; it would have been the first time a former Manitoban would have had a horse in the world championships. Then again, one has to credit Atras for not pushing the mare beyond her current limits.

Maybe Maracuja will return from her break stronger and faster than ever. She and Atras will certainly be a stable to follow next year.

Atras horses have always been horses to watch. Atras, who is originally from Oakbank, Man., began training horses in his late teens, first at Assiniboia Downs from 2009-2011, then heading south where he has repeatedly been among the top percentage trainers at top tracks. He’s now training at Belmont Park in New York City with his wife/assistant trainer Brittney.

So where can you watch the Breeders’ Cup races?

At Assiniboia Downs, of course, and at off-track locations (listed on the website) and you can also watch and play them on your phones, laptops or computers.

No betting account? Go to As part of an introductory deal, when new sign-ups bet at least $100 in a month, $100 is deposited into that player’s account. In other words, you really can’t lose.
In addition, if you bet at least $40 on Friday and Saturday, you’ll have a chance of winning $100 when the Downs makes a random draw, depositing $100 into the accounts of 10 players.

Want a Breeders’ Cup souvenir? Order a vodka cherry lemonade in the BC souvenir glass for $9.95 and keep the glass —while quantities last! Breeders’ Cup races begin at 4:50 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 5 and 2:05 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 6.

The biggest race, the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, will be the final race Saturday, when Medina Spirit attempts to double up on his Kentucky Derby victory.

When you’ve taken it all in this Friday and Saturday will you start to call it Horseplayer Christmas, too?

Ivan Bigg

Ivan Bigg
At the Races

Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us